When Denverites protesting police brutality and systemic racism took the microphone and held onto it for several hours during its weekly meeting last month, the Denver City Council threw out its decorum rules and let them talk.
The following week was different. Protesters threatened to make themselves heard again, and the council promptly canceled its meeting. Then-council president Jolon Clark said it was a matter of stifling COVID-19 — some protesters refused to wear masks the week prior and many did not social distance — but activists said the move stifled free speech.
Legislators committed back then to extra face-time with the public. On Monday we found out what that will look like. The council will hold three online “listening sessions” starting Thursday. Each event is capped at one hour. Here’s the lineup so far (these are just the first of batch of sessions, a city staffer said):
- July 30, 6 to 7 p.m.
- August 10, noon to 1 p.m.
- August 22, 10-11 a.m.
While several activists asked council members last month for a two-way conversation, these sessions will be a one-way street. No back-and-forths will happen, said Stacy Simonet, a communications administrator for the council.
“They want to let as many people share their thoughts as they possibly can,” Simonet said. “What you will see is a website where they will answer as many questions as they can, based on what people are asking about in the sessions.”
All meetings will be held on Zoom. Registration opens 48 hours before each session. Anyone who wants to participate or just listen can visit this website for instructions.